Saturday, April 29, 2017

Getting beyond Zero


"Getting to Zero" is a goal theory with a big hole in the center of it.

Getting to Zero and then beyond, however, is the very best that tango can give you.  In the area of the arts and the human psyche, Zero is not enough. Something I have been doing with patients diagnosed with PTSD lately has been to measure distress differently. My goal for those I help is going beyond. Tango is my inspiration for challenging the "getting to Zero" medical model.

In tango, in tai chi, in meditation, the arts and spirituality, attentive calmness is Zero. The medical model is happy with Zero. Zero in pain? Great! Zero in traumatic distress? Sounds good.  Zero in your relationships? Hmm. Sounds suspect, I think. But that is what therapists are too often aiming for. Getting to Zero is not what the human psyche wants or needs. When dancing, conversing, reading, watching a beautiful sunset, listening to music, making love--zero is the starting point and then the psyche loves to go beyond that.

Pain and pleasure use the same nerves! Zeroists are embarrassed by "beyond part"? On the other side of distress we often find wellness. On the other side of "painful" arguments in relationships we often find deepened communication. We have so much beyond Zero in life; not just tango. And look too at history: Was Buddha's goal to go back to his princely palace upon getting a bit of enlightenment? After getting over the trauma of the cross, Zero for Jesus would perhaps allow him to get back to carpentry?  Shall you return to an abusive relationship simply when the abuse "gets to Zero"? Beyond is better.

Getting beyond zero in tango is finding calm from the start, awareness of tandem breathing, and then a shared inspiration of the music:  Zero soon disappears in the musicians' trance and the dancers' shared heaven. After Zero is in the rearview mirror, the dancer dyad now rediscovers the "Beyond Zero" part of life. Their awareness has now led them to the magic of the embrace, the wonder of their primal somatic connection to the music, and the their shared Nirvana of tandem movement. Is the music bringing you into another realm? That's now a plus one to ten. Are your movements bringing you and your partner into a tandem trance? That is plus ten or even "off the chart" of the Zero-and-Beyond way of measuring the soul's journey in a life worth living.

Welcome to the Beyond of tango.


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Photo credit: Stockwell Studios.  Their photo is about their support of a movement, "BeyondZero," which aims to explore the impact of climate change and its effects on our environment and societies.

Getting to zero references:
  • Here's a NY Times article which suggests that Hemingway need to "get to zero" as his baseline as a talented young writer, suggesting that zero would lead to great things: Zero and beyond. 
  • No infections caused by your doctor's endoscope? Then "getting to zero" is a great goal. I'm all for Zero in this case.
  • The AIDS goal of getting to zero sounds good too. If/when we do, we will not be at zero because we have learned so much about the immune system since the start of the AIDS epidemic.  https://www.gettingtozerosf.org/
  • Getting beyond zero? I discovered that my idea is shared by others in the fight again ebola in Africa.  

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